March 27, 2020
The E-Newsbrief of the National Clearinghouse is a free weekly newsletter focusing on new developments in the world of worker health and safety. Each issue provides summaries of the latest worker health and safety news from newspapers, magazines, journals, government reports, and the Web, along with links to the original documents. Also featured each week are updates from government agencies that handle hazmat and worker safety issues such as DOE, EPA, OSHA and others.
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- On The Web This Week
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COVID-19 Workers Get Training to Protect Their Own Health
The National Institutes of Health launched a new website with important educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) has been tracking information about coronavirus as it pertains to protecting workers involved in emergency response and cleanup activities performed in the U.S. The webpage contains health and safety resources for workers who may be at risk of exposure.
Spring 2020 NIEHS WTP Protecting Infectious Disease Responders During the COVID-19 Outbreak Recording Coming Soon
On March 17, the NIEHS Worker Training Program, in collaboration with the Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Center, hosted the webinar, “Protecting Infectious Disease Responders During the COVID-19 Outbreak.” The webinar featured a time-sensitive discussion on worker protection and biosafety issues. The presentations along with Q&As from participants will be made available on the NIEHS website as soon as possible.
Lemos Confirmed As Chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board
The U.S. Senate confirmed Katherine Lemos to lead the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) on March 23. This brings the board’s membership up to two people, three short of the five members required by law. Lemos comes to the CSB – which investigates chemical-related industrial accidents – from Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. Lemos has experience as a regulator at the Federal Aviation Administration and an accident investigator at the National Transportation Safety Board.
Chemical and Engineering News [Author: Cheryl Hogue]
More Time Sought for Public Input on Nuclear Fuel Proposal
Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are requesting that federal regulators extend the public comment period for an environmental review related to a multibillion-dollar complex that would store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S.
The San Francisco Chronicle [Author: Susan Montoya Bryan]
Could ‘Big One’ in Utah Be Costliest Natural Disaster in U.S. History?
March 18’s earthquake may have jolted nearly 3 million Utahns out of their dismissiveness when it comes to the Wasatch Fault being overdue for the big 7.0 magnitude shaker, so experts are seizing on the opportunity to stress the need to prepare. In fact, Envision Utah has released a compilation of data gathered over the years that illustrates just how devastating it would be if one were to happen in Salt Lake County and is preparing to launch an explanatory publication on disaster resilience planning.
Deseret News [Author: Amy Joi O'Donoghue]
One Injured in Pollution Site Fire
A fire at a brownfield and hazardous waste site sent one person to the hospital and multiple people from their homes March 24. Fire departments from Rochester, Eyota, and Elgin were called to the Olmsted County-owned site. The site, identified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as the "Penz property," was obtained by the state of Minnesota from Calvin Penz in 2017 via tax sale.
Minnesota Post Bulletin [Author: John Molseed]
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New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Workplace - Risk Factors and Solutions
New Solutions seeks manuscripts on the subject of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and its occupational and environmental health policy impacts from the local to international levels. Manuscripts can be submitted immediately and for the foreseeable future. Accepted papers will be published as quickly as possible.
NACOSH Seeks a Request for Nominations
The Secretary of Labor (Secretary) invites interested individuals to submit nominations for membership on National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration established NACOSH to advise, consult with, and make recommendations to the Secretary and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on matters relating to the administration of the OSH Act. NACOSH is a continuing advisory committee of indefinite duration.
Responding to COVID-19: A Science-Based Approach Webinars
The American Public Health Association (APHA) and the National Academies of Medicine is hosting a series of webinars to explore the state of the science surrounding the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. and globally, with a focus on the emerging evidence on how to best mitigate its impact. The webinars will feature trusted experts in such fields as public health, infectious disease, risk communication, and crisis standards of care.
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Guidelines for Setting Up a Home Office
The Ergonomics Center of North Carolina developed guidelines for setting up a home office. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of Americans to work remotely from their homes, but not everyone is set up with a proper home office. In addition to regularly and thoroughly sanitizing your work area and office components, your home office should be set up using the same basic ergonomics principles as a work office. These recommendations are provided to assist you in increasing your comfort while using your laptop or computer at home.
How Companies Are Getting 1,4-Dioxane Out of Home and Personal Care Products
The ethoxylation and sulfation steps involved in producing surfactants can create 1,4-dioxane as a by-product. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls dioxane “a likely human carcinogen” that “does not readily biodegrade in the environment.” Growing worries about dioxane are forcing cleaning product makers – and the chemical companies that supply them – to adapt.
Chemical and Engineering News [Author: Craig A. Bettenhausen]
New, Emerging Jobs and the Green Economy Are Boosting Demand for Analytical Skills
In a changing U.S. labor market, new and emerging occupations – including those that are linked to a green economy or the adoption of newer technologies – are raising the importance of analytical skills, such as science, mathematics and programming, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of federal government job-skills data. New and emerging occupations either represent new lines of work or are newly deserving of their own classification due to rising employment and other factors.
Pew Research Center [Author: Rakesh Kochar]
Eight Reasons to Adopt Microlearning Safety Training Whitepaper
Microlearning is an excellent way to harness the digital age, utilizing hyper-focused content and mobile-ready production to create a learning experience fitting of our time. SafetySkills developed a whitepaper titled, “8 Reasons to Adopt Microlearning Safety Training” to discover eight features that make microlearning ideal for any training program.
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CSB Releases New BP Texas City Animation Marking the 15th Anniversary of the Deadly Refinery Incident
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is releasing an updated animation detailing the tragic events which occurred 15 years ago today at the BP America Refinery in Texas City, Texas, when a massive hydrocarbon release and ensuing explosion and fire killed 15 and injured 170 others. The massive explosion was a landmark investigation for the CSB and revealed safety gaps at refineries across the country.
U.S. Department of Labor Issues Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing in Healthcare during COVID-19 Outbreak
Following the White House’s memorandum on the availability of respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new temporary guidance regarding the enforcement of OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard. This guidance is aimed at ensuring healthcare workers have full access to needed N95 respiratory protection in light of anticipated shortages.
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COVID-19 Resources for Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding
In a message from Michael Lauer, M.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIH is deeply concerned for the health and safety of people involved in NIH research, and about the effects on the biomedical enterprise in the areas affected by the declared public health emergency for COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and NIH is aware that many institutions are taking a variety of “social distancing” measures, including switching to telework and cancelling or postponing classes and non-essential meetings.
Steps Construction Employers and Workers Should Take in Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) has been working closely with the North America's Building Trades Unions and our research, government, and other industry partners to respond to questions about the spread of this disease and to provide the latest information on protecting construction workers on the job. To make this information readily accessible, CPWR developed a COVID-19 resource page on, including a one-page guidance document.
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NIEHS Hazardous Substances Research Branch Seeks Health Specialist
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is hiring a Health Specialist in the Hazardous Substances Research Branch (HSRB) within the Division of Extramural Research and Training. The HSRB supports biomedical and environmental science/engineering research to address consequences associated with hazardous substances in the environment and supports all activities of the Superfund Hazardous Substances Basic Research and Training Program. The deadline to apply is March 30.
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